Doubts, Sure. But Grateful for This Path

Phew! It’s about damn time.

One more month to go. One more month until I begin my second thru-hike. One more month until I realize again the true freedom experienced on an adventure like this.

It’s been six years since I spent my summer walking down the East Coast on the AT, and it’s a very surreal feeling knowing that soon I’ll be embarking on a similar journey filled with so many unknowns. And I have to admit, I’m definitely feeling a much broader spectrum of emotions now than I was in 2012.  I’m sure that’s all just due to the extra six years of life experience, but the closer I get to my start date at the Southern Terminus of the PCT, the more tumultuous those feelings are. One day I’m filled with pure excitement and restlessness, and the next I’m having an obligatory “oh shit” moment. Those moments are when I’m full of doubt. Where the cons seem to outweigh the pros, and I’m wondering how I talked myself into another hike like this. I think about what it means to say goodbye to friends and family, to leave my job, and step away from the life I’ve been building here in Austin. I toss these thoughts around often, but at the end of every internal battle, I seem to be left with one thing. And that one thing is resounding.

I am grateful.  

I am grateful for the unconditional support that my family has shown me as I have incessantly planned and stressed about this hike. I am grateful for amazing friends who continue to say that they’re so excited to share in this adventure with me and that they can’t wait to hear about it when I get home. I am grateful to have the opportunity to devote my time and energy to something so amazing and life-changing. And finally, I am grateful to be able to spend time getting back in tune with Mother Nature and all the beauty she provides.

At the end of the day, this hike will be much more to me than just a long walk. Finishing the AT left me with something invaluable. It was identity forming and the closest thing I’ve ever had to a religious experience. Similarly, I hope that hiking the PCT over the next four to five months will be just as fulfilling. And in a world that lays out so many different paths for us to take, I am grateful that  I know right now what mine is. Good luck class of 2018. I’ll see y’all out on the trail.

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